Famous Soccer Quotes

By Omar Elhussieny •  Updated: 06/06/22 •  11 min read

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Every successful person, in any field, has an edge. This edge helps this individual excel and win against his counterparts. Soccer is not an exception. Every player is on a journey of discovering himself with the help of coaches throughout the years. A player’s edge can be a set of skills or perceptions of the game. What makes the difference is how early he can put his hands on this edge and fine tune it.

Learning insights and anecdotes from successful people in soccer world gives us the opportunity to dive into their minds and understand how they approach the game as well as life.

Some quotes are funny, some are furious, and we enjoy it all. Andrea Pirlo once said “Football is played with the head. Your feet are just the tools”. Inside those genius, soccer heads is where I will dig in this article. Here are some of the most famous soccer quotes.

Famous Soccer Quotes

“Talent without working hard is nothing.” – Cristiano Ronaldo

If there is one player who can back up those words with actions every day, it’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Evidently, CR7 has shown how far he is willing to go with hard work. Every time we thought Cristiano is starting to slow down, he reminded us of what a great example of discipline and hard work he is. No matter how talented a player can be, without hard work, he will remain a talent which never fulfilled its true potential. Many examples prove this right, but it’s beyond the scope of this article.

“People want success. It’s like coffee, they want instant.” – Sir Robert William “Bobby” Robson

Building on the previous quote, it’s important to understand that success in sports is a marathon not a sprint. The only caveat is that the player must differentiate between steady progressive work and a routine that is not showing any results. What Bobby is trying to convey here is that there are no shortcuts. Put in the hard work and keep at it until it happens.

“Behind every kick of the ball there has to be a thought.” – Dennis Nicolaas Bergkamp

This soccer hack is the reason why some players seem effortless on the pitch. Thinking ahead of actions makes everything easier and requires less time to execute. A subtle move such as a quick look over the shoulder to scan spaces or pinpoint your teammate ahead of receiving the ball, makes ideas present themselves. If, for example, you check your teammate position and see he is unmarked with wide open space, then the idea of passing the ball to him in this space becomes your logical next move. If you are already aware of defenders around you, then one touch pass is sensible, etc. Thinking ahead of playing steers the game easily and sets teammates up for an easier task.

“If I have to make a tackle, then I have already made a mistake” – Paolo Maldini

The point Paolo is trying to drive home here is a gem for defenders. He believes that a defender should view tackles as the final resort to recover a mistake he has already made in positioning or marking. Back in the day coaches used to think that good defenders don’t come off the pitch in clean shorts, but Maldini, apparently, disagrees. He was renowned for his elegant style and widely accepted as a member of Top 10 Defenders of all time.

“I trained three or four hours at Ajax when I was little, but I played three or four hours daily on the street. So where do you think I learnt football?” – Johan Cruyff

Johan is fond of giving kids the opportunity to enjoy and learn from mistakes instead of telling them what to do. His philosophy is that soccer should be fun for kids, or it doesn’t make sense. Turning the game into a bunch of orders kills any joy and teaches kids to inhibit their instinct instead of polishing it.

“It’s like a toaster, the ref’s shirt pocket. Every time there’s a tackle, up pops a yellow card.” – Kevin Keegan

On the funny side of things, Kevin Keegan is addressing an eternal debate here. Refereeing a soccer match will always have an arbitrary margin even after adding Video Assistant Referee to the equation. Amid heat and emotions, quotes like this are likely to pop from coaches. We have witnessed many interesting post-game press interviews, but this one will remain a classic.

“Look, I’m a coach. I’m not Harry Potter. He is magical, but in reality, there is no magic. Magic is fiction and football is real.” – Jose Mourinho

Jose is trying to make that wake-up call with his witty analogy. Although he was obviously defending himself in this situation, it goes for all elements not just coaches. There is no training program, a coach, a pair of boots or an agent who can magically fix a soccer problem. It’s a long steady process.

“I once cried because I had no shoes to play soccer, but one day, I met a man who had no feet.” – Zinedine Zidane

Most soccer players come from a humble background. Zizou is sharing a lesson he learnt; we should learn to appreciate the hand we were dealt and make the best out of it.

“There’s never been completion in my soccer career because I’ve always been striving for that next thing.” – Ryan Giggs

Complacency is the biggest threat to consistency. This is best illustrated in one season wonder stories. A player should find motivation and keep growing. Giggs is a player who stayed in top tier soccer for a couple of decades, he certainly practices what he preaches.

“When I score, I don’t celebrate. It’s my job, does a postman celebrate when he delivers post?” – Mario Balotelli

Coming from one of the most controversial players in modern soccer, I have not factchecked this claim, but it makes sense. It’s a good way to keep feet on the ground and not drift into complacency.

“In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol – it was the worst 20 minutes of my life.” – George Best

As amusing as it is, I can’t say that it’s a good example for young players. Nonetheless, we can still learn something from it. George Best was a rare talent, but the reason he never fulfilled his potential is such mentality and habits.

“In his life, a man can change wives, political parties or religions, but he cannot change his favorite soccer team.” – Eduardo Galeano.

Fans relationship with their favorite team is complicated. The team presenting a euphoric feeling today is the same team that made you sad and disappointed before. In any case, you continue to support this team and accept the emotional roulette. That’s the beauty of sport as Pep Guardiola once said.

“Some people think that soccer is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more than that.” – Bill Shankly

Billy agrees with Galeano and some more.

“Soccer is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” — Gary Lineker

Germany is always a candidate for gold regardless of the names on the pitch. It’s a mentality deeply rooted in every German player. Good preparation, discipline and playing to win is the simplest way to describe that.

“Playing soccer is very simple, but playing simple soccer is the hardest thing there is.” – Johan Cruyff

Players and coaches tend to over complicate the game sometimes. Johan’s idea of the game was always simple. He once said, “To win you have to score one more goal than your opponent.” Simple but true.

“I was born to play football, just like Beethoven was born to write music and Michelangelo was born to paint.” – Pelé

A person can’t go far if he doesn’t believe he is the best. This is the only way to reach full potential. Pele had this belief, and I can’t agree more. Half a century after retiring, it looks like this statement was nothing but a fact.

“In Latin America, the border between soccer and politics is vague. There is a long list of governments that have fallen or been overthrown after the defeat of the national team.” – Luis Suarez

Not only that. There have been wars and events no one is proud of. But it shows how much people love the game and how much it matters to them.

“Everything is practice.” – Pele

This short and clear message from the Brazilian legend is another reminder that there is no such thing as surviving on talent alone. Even the greatest players had to work hard daily and give 100% of what they have in every practice or match.

“There is no pressure when you are making a dream come true.” – Neymar Jr.

This was said in many forms. Neymar is emphasizing that doing what you love to do is a reward and blessing itself, and for that you should enjoy and be grateful instead of feeling under the weather.

“In football as in watchmaking, talent and elegance mean nothing without rigor and precision.”- Lionel Messi.

No wonder Leo has been shining and winning like clockwork.

“I don’t believe skill was, or ever will be, the result of coaches. It is a result of a love affair between the child and the ball.” – Roy Keane.

This statement is true in my opinion and next quote cosigns it. Coaches can make you a better player, but without that love for the sport, you won’t be able to maximize your talents.

“I learned all about life with a ball at my feet” – Ronaldinho

It isn’t hard to see how much Ronaldinho enjoyed playing football every single time he stepped on the pitch. He was always smiling, always entertaining himself and the fans. I believe this is the kind of affair Roy Keane meant.

“The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.” –Pele

Indeed. Last minute goals and winning with less men have a different taste.

“Your love makes me strong, your hate makes me unstoppable!” – Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano knows how to find a spark, fan it and turn it into a roaring flame. Even if this spark is a hateful comment. Ex FIFA head Sepp Blatter knows this very well. He once mocked Ronaldo publicly, and it was enough to fuel Cristiano’s insatiable fire for the rest of the season.

“There is no room for criticism on the training field. For a player – and for any human being – there is nothing better than hearing ‘well done’. Those are the two best words ever invented in sports. You don’t need to use superlatives.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.

They say coaches make you and coaches break you. From what we see, Ferguson knew how to bring the best out of his players using just two words.

While these great athletes delivered inspirational quotes to fans and the media that really got people excited about the game. There were times when things didn’t go as planned. I’ll wrap this up with some quotes that were noted for how funny or ridiculous it is.

“If you’re in the penalty area and don’t know what to do with the ball, put it in the net and we’ll discuss the options later.” – Bob Paisley

“Every time I play Pep [Guardiola] I end up with 10 men. It must be some sort of UEFA rule.” – Jose Mourinho

“I couldn’t settle in Italy. It was like living in a foreign country.” —Ian Rush

“We must have had 99 percent of the match. It was the other three percent that cost us.” —Ruud Gullit

“I never make predictions, and I never will.” —Paul Gascoigne

“I don’t think there is anybody bigger or smaller than Maradona.” —Kevin Keegan

“That would’ve been a goal had it gone inside the post.” – Michael Owen

“Will I become a coach in the future? No way, I’d never be able to put up with someone like me.” – Romario

Omar Elhussieny

My name is Omar Elhussieny and I'm a sports author and ex professional player with decent experience in different leagues and regions. I have won few trophies in my player career and participated in two UEFA Champions league seasons. My life always revolved around this game and after hanging my boots I decided to put my experiences and thoughts into words and share it with you. While I'm writing I'm always thinking about that young kid who is dreaming of becoming a professional player one day and I try to be the mentor I needed when I was younger. Whether you are a player, a coach or just a fellow fan of this beautiful game, we share the passion for it and that's all that matters, isn't it?!